Alex Armstrong

A putter togetherer of words & code

A heart drawn on a stained window pane.

28 July 2017 • 5 min read

Hell yeah

This blog has been quiet, though my life – including my writing life – has been busier than ever. There are plenty of things I’ve wanted to write but didn’t get round to starting. Or I did start them, but didn’t finish them. Or I finished them, but didn’t like them well enough to…

A woman with blond, braided hair.

30 May 2017 • 6 min read

Waiting for a sign

I drew the shutters of the bar I worked at around one in the morning. Ch— used to work there as well. That’s how we first met. But she had quit in a huff a few weeks earlier and began working at a nearby club. I lived nearby, in a one-room flat without its own bathroom. Since I…

A pile of old cars dumped in a cave.

4 May 2017 • 4 min read

Unpublishing

Over the last two weeks, since returning from my fourth meditation retreat, I’ve written three or four blog posts, of which I’ve published precisely zero. The pace is a bit more frenzied than typical, partly owing to meditation. After this last retreat I began sitting twice a…

Container ships in a foggy bay.

26 February 2017 • 3 min read

A blog instead of a hammer

I was walking down the bay of Thessaloniki this morning, enjoying the drizzly, foggy day. I took a few photos of the container ships which hung soundlessly out in the misty water, like ghost ships from an ominous tale. Walking back, I kept stopping to take more pictures. I’m not…

World maps

20 February 2017 • 2 min read

The map seller

The man walking towards me on the other side of the pavement caught my eye and ambled in my path. We stopped and sized each other. He was in his sixties. Being a bit shorter than me, he pushed the flat cap up on his forehead to look at me. He pointed to a bundle of rolled papers…

18 February 2017 • 6 min read

The joy and chore of outlining fiction

In terms of writing these days I am mired, knee-deep, in the squelching, quaggy plot of my novel. I’m trying to make sure that the story is fun to read, makes sense, and is historically plausible — or, at least, not blatantly inconceivable. Every time I sit to work on the…

24 January 2017 • 10 min read

Reflecting on 2016

It’s traditional around the end of the year for people to reflect on the past year, and envision wanton aspirations for the coming one. Most bloggers have, by now, posted their reflections — no doubt scrupulously prepared before the holidays, so that they can post triumphantly…

The beach at Artemida, Greece.

26 July 2016 • 6 min read

Swimming lessons

I’ve spent the last couple of weeks by the beach. I am working, not vacationing. But since I work remotely, and my primary collaborator is on vacation, and the beach is so near Athens, and I have somewhere to stay, and decent WiFi is available at the seaside cafés, well: I’d be a…

31 May 2016 • 8 min read

Not quitting

I started this year thinking about beginnings. More recently I’ve been thinking about endings. And in particular, about quitting. How to quit and when. What are the signs, the premonitions? Is it possible to quit with dignity? This is all Potatowire’s fault. Potatowire, an…

9 April 2016 • 3 min read

The discrepancy of sunglasses

I’m not fond of the summer heat, but I like the sun, because it gives me reason to wear my sunglasses. Not only do they shade my eyes from the glare, but whenever I put them on I feel very cool. If I catch myself reflected in a mirror or a window, I’ll stop for a moment and…